CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: “Charade”

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of  RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

If you want to see one of cinema’s greatest on-screen pairings, backed by a tremendous supporting cast, in front of a majestic Paris setting, a gorgeous Henry Mancini score and one of the most riveting climaxes to a movie in the 1960s, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better film than “Charade.”
The film stars legendary actors Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau, George Kennedy, James Coburn, Ned Glass and others.

(Stars Grant and Hepburn)

“Charade” starts off with a beautiful pan shot of the countryside, the stillness shredded by the sound of a fast-moving steam engine, a body ruthless tossed off the train and a haunting extreme close-up into the eyes of the dead body, all in the first 30 seconds before rocking the audience into the movie’s famous opening theme song.

Viewers quickly learn that the widow, Regina “Reggie” Lampert (Hepburn) really didn’t know her new groom very well when she is told by the police that her husband had many aliases.  She is further startled to learn her husband not only sold all of their belongings but is the owner of a great deal of money, which three other seedy-looking characters (Kennedy, Colburn, Glass) claim is theirs.

In comes the charming Grant (we won’t spoil things by telling you his name) to try to help Reggie, who is quickly targeted by everyone else, including the CIA (no spoiler here either) as the only logical owner of the cash, but she claims she had no idea of its existence in the first place.

Adding to the web of lies, her new confidant turns out to have his own series of aliases, and questionable motives for trying to help Reggie.

The film’s tone rapidly alternates between humorous moments, romance, intrigue and mystery.  As suspects begin getting bumped off it leaves very little downtime before having all questions resolved in its edge-of-your-seat finale.

“Charade” received numerous Academy and Golden Globe Award nominations (winning several) and is one of the few films ever listed simultaneously on the American Film Institute’s top 100 moments in the often conflicting movie categories of comedy, romance, thrillers and murder mysteries … AND places in the top 100 film scores.

Plus, the funeral scene is one of the funniest “macabre moments” you may ever witness.

Oh by the way, the film was also directed by yet another cinema legend, Stanley Donen, whose long line of iconic films includes “Singing in the Rain,” “On the Town,” “Royal Wedding,” “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” and many others.

“Charade” is a must-see and will be featured in the RCN-TV Movie Vault on Friday, May 22nd at 7:30 p.m.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

 

The Entry That Might Have Been

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

When the government ordered massive shutdowns in March due to the coronavirus, I was literally putting the finishing touches on my blog post that was going to run that week, when I received word that our studio would be closed for the near-term.

It was even more disappointing because, that Thursday, I was really looking forward to our “SportsTalk” program — having a terrific blend of wonderful people on the show, discussing some very important issues.

As concern for the virus continues and we get deeper in the calendar – with people’s scheduling becoming more hectic with other responsibilities – it’s becoming doubtful that we will be able to have all of the people on the show at the same time that we were going to have on for that particular day. While we will probably have at least most of them on, at different times on upcoming shows, I just thought it was going to be a great blend of personalities and views, all on the same episode, that may not come together again as I would have liked.

So I’m going to do something a little different for this week and present the blog that I had written for that week, as is, right up until I heard the news — just to give you a taste of what might have been if everything came together just perfectly.

By the way, we will not have a shortage of firepower on this week’s show as some of the guests listed below will be on Thursday’s program. Others will be on upcoming shows over the next several weeks.

Also, for this Thursday, we will have District XI Football Chair Jason Zimmerman on to give us some insights on the road ahead for high school sports’ recovery and potential timetables for the fall football season.

But now, enjoy the blog entry as it would have been – right up until it prematurely came to an abrupt stop.

*****

Original Title: “Women in Sports Recognition”

While it’s not yet an officially “recognized” month, there has been a movement in recent years to have one month emphasize the importance of women’s contributions in the ENTIRE world of sports.  The goal of this initiative ranges from more actively promoting women’s sports programs in participation, recognition and promotions to featuring coaches, broadcasters and administrators in traditionally male-dominated areas, as well as encouraging more women to enter these fields.

You may remember last year at this time I featured Melanie Newman, a relatively new broadcaster who, along with Susan Cool, became the first all-female broadcast team for a major sports franchise (a Red Sox Minor League team) in the country.

Newman, by the way, was recently named to the Baltimore Orioles broadcasting team, making an incredible ascension from the low Single-A Minor Leagues to the Major Leagues within one year’s time–yet another example of what amazing excellence can be achieved when women are given an opportunity in sports.

With SportsTalk co-host Keith Groller unavailable for several shows over the next few weeks, I dare say we have a very special individual to work the co-hosting chair.

Joetta Clark-Diggs, a four-time Olympian, 11-time USA All-American, inducted into the United States’ Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2009 and owner of track times that are still ranked among the best in the world, will be joining me on the program once again to discuss different topics of interest.

This week’s guests include members of the Saucon Valley girls track team to discuss defending their record shattering times set at last year’s Pennsylvania state competitions in Shippensburg. Among them will be Joetta’s daughter, Talitha, who already has earned some major hardware in her very young career.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: “Suddenly”

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

In a career filled with tremendous individual accomplishments too lengthy to list in a single blog entry, Frank Sinatra’s performance in the 1954 thriller, Suddenly, is probably one of his greatest, underrated works as an actor.

After a decade of multiple number one hits and rave reviews as a happy-go-lucky leading man on the silver screen, Sinatra’s film career dipped in the early part of the 1950s.

But with a starring role in the iconic film, From Here To Eternity, Sinatra was back in the public eye and had the screen credit to play possibly the biggest “departure role” of his career.

In Suddenly, Sinatra’s character is John Baron, a psychopathic killer disguised as a government agent and a paid assassin who’s hell-bent on shooting the President of the United States of America at any cost.

Baron leads a small group of henchmen who ruthlessly take over an innocent family’s house, located next to the train tracks that will be escorting the President through the sleepy town of Suddenly, California.

Baron and his thugs take hostages and show no mercy in this gritty film, with many twists-and-turns in this fast-paced 75-minute flick.

This film further deepened “‘Ol’ Blue Eyes”’ range as an actor and was part of over a dozen highly successful films in the 1950s which further advanced his already successful singing career.

Two interesting bits of trivia concerning Suddenly.  An ill-conceived idea of colorizing this film in the mid-1980s went awry when they mistakenly painted Sinatra’s eyes brown throughout the film.

A less humorous antidote: Sinatra unsuccessfully attempted to purchase and destroy all copies of this film as well as the 1962 classic, The Manchurian Candidate, after a rumor surfaced that Lee Harvey Oswald watched both of these films before deciding to shoot President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Both films starred Sinatra with plot lines involving assassination attempts, although he handled the protagonist duties in Candidate.

Suddenly also stars Sterling Hayden (the crooked Captain McCluskey in The Godfather) and is a must-see for Sinatra followers and fans of thrill-seeking film noir works alike. 

Suddenly is featured on the “RCN Movie Theater/Retro Special” on Wednesday, May 13, at 9pm and Saturday, May 16, at 8:30pm on RCN-TV.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website. 

 

 

 

Fore!

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

I know that there are certainly more important things going on in your life right now.  Many of you are missing paychecks, many have yet to see their stimulus check, many can’t get through to the unemployment web site, and many have lost someone close due to the Corona Virus.  I understand that, for sure, but, just this one time, allow me to feel a little self-pity and I emphasize “a little”.

This past week was supposed to be a good one – On April 25, the Lafayette Maroon-White football game was to be played and I would be in the booth to once again preview the upcoming football season.  The outlook was brighter than it had been in quite awhile.  Lafayette had won 4 of their last 5 games last season and they looked to be much stronger this year.  The game, obviously, was not played.

On Sunday, eight of us were set to embark on our 16th straight golf trip.  We call it The War at the Shore because we stay near the boardwalk in Ocean City. It is a great time – one practice round followed by 4 official rounds leading to a championship.  Place of finish is important because that becomes the order for room choices the following year.  Believe me when I say you do not want to finish 7th or 8th.  Those are children’s rooms with appropriately sized beds and mattresses.  The battle for the two master suites is intense.  It includes your own bath and shower, a TV, and an oversized bed.

The scores are handicapped so, technically, we are all about even when we play.  Handicaps are vociferously debated especially when a good golfer finds himself below a not-so-good (sometimes awful) golfer.  The handicap debates are a source of argument and laughter at the same time.

Each day, the scoreboard is updated to reflect each player’s position.  Good-natured (I think it’s “good-natured”) ribbing ensues while we all enjoy dinner, refreshment, the battle for what shows to watch on the main flat-screen TV.  Trust me, I will never forget the year we watched about 200 episodes of Dangerous Catch.  Obviously, my vote did not count for much.

On the fifth day, after the final round, we meet in the parking lot and the order of finish is announced, with appropriate, and inappropriate, trophies rewarded.  The top players exhibit those awards throughout the year and the bottom trophies are not for public viewing.  And we get into our cars and return home, proudly or quite humbly.  I, more than I care to admit, but constantly reminded, am often humbled.

I am writing this because this Sunday afternoon I am going golfing.  Yes, Governor Wolf opened up the golf courses for play this weekend.  I am writing this now so I don’t accidentally put my score in the story.

There are plenty of restrictions – one player in a cart, no scorecard, no pencils, social distancing in effect, no touching the pins, etc. – in other words, reduce the camaraderie to a minimum.  Since I am playing with three other “War at the Shore” participants, reduced camaraderie is fine with me.

So, I am done whining to you about this minor problem.

Oh, did I mention that instead of playing golf this past Sunday, my wife and I were to leave on a cruise that day?

But whining about that is for another time.

Stay safe!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Charles Barkley this week chose his Top Five NBA players of all time: Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kobe Bryant was sixth and LeBron James was seventh.  It’s hard to argue his choices.  Speaking of Jordan, I hope you are watching ESPN’s “The Last Dance”.  It is really good even for the non-sports fan.
  1. The NFL is not messing around with their schedule. Late this week, the league will release their 2020 schedule and it does not include any accommodations to the current situation.  September 10 is the opener and the Super Bowl is scheduled for February 7.  They promise to do “reasonable and responsible” planning.  That will be the interesting part.
  1. Congratulations to the following local high school basketball players for achieving All-State honors this past season:

    Boys:
    Caleb Mims – Freedom
    Daryl Coleman – Southern Lehigh
    Nick Filchner – Central Catholic
    Abe Atiyeh – Moravian Academy
    Jevin Muniz – Executive Education
    Titus Wilkins – Executive Education

    Girls:
    Talya Brugler – Nazareth
    Taliyah Medina – Bethlehem Catholic (4A Player of the Year)
    Antonio Bates – Notre Dame
    Cassie Murphy – Notre Dame

  1. The Lafayette Virtual Tailgate Party this past Saturday went very well. Mike Joseph and I were the hosts.  It was Zoomed to over 250 fans and featured Coach John Garrett, who introduced the four co-captains for the season – offensive lineman, John Burk; linebacker, Major Jordan; wide receiver Quinn Revere; and safety Otis Thrasher.  I did miss the smell of burgers and sausages on the grill and the popping of aluminum can tops.  That is hard to do “virtually”.
  1. I keep thinking that if I watch enough of the Golf Channel “how-to improve” shows, my game will, well, improve. But, as I watch, there seems to be something new to think about every time you prepare to hit the ball.  There is only so much I can remember during my backswing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: “Beat The Devil”

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

Very few actors can say they were a bigger box office draw that Humphrey Bogart in the 1940s and early 50s.

He starred in several films regarded as the greatest of all time and won his first Academy Award in what many called the ultimate on-screen pairing with Katharine Hepburn, The African Queen, in 1951.

In 1999, the American Film Institute designated Bogart as the greatest male film actor of cinema’s “Classic Era.”

And in 1953, Bogart teamed with another screen legend, Peter Lorre, Academy Award winning director John Huston, multiple-Oscar nominated actress Jennifer Jones, Bernard Lee (the original “M” in the James Bond movie series) and one of the sexiest leading ladies of the era, Gina Lollobrigida, in one of Bogart’s last films, Beat The Devil.

(Beat The Devil stars, from left, Jones, Bogart and Lollobrigida)

The film was originally intended as a sequel of one of the greatest film noir flicks of all time, The Maltese Falcon.  However, shortly after co-writers Houston and Truman Capote started the screenplay, they changed direction and instead wrote a spoof of Falcon and similar films of the genre.

Unlike later parody films, the plot is interesting and the comedic lines nicely accompany the storyline with neither getting in the way of each other. While not a typical film style for any of the leading stars, the actors generally received positive reviews for their performances.

Bogart got in a real-life car crash during the production and had to have several of his lines dubbed over in order for the film to be completed on time.

The actor they hired to double Bogey’s voice?

The then-unknown actor Peter Sellers who, among other great films, became the genius behind The Pink Panther movies. (Can you tell which scenes he was in?)

Though nearing the end of his legendary career, Bogart was still clearly on his game, following up this film up with his Oscar-nominated performance in The Caine Mutiny.

Film critic Roger Ebert included Devil in his “great movie” list and singles it out as perhaps the first ever successful “camp film” in cinema history.

Beat The Devil will be featured in the RCN Movie Vault on Thursday, May 7, at 9:00 am.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website. 

 

 

 

 

Sorry, Charlie

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Twenty-four-hour, all-sports radio stations have had an interesting few weeks trying to come up with new topics to discuss when there are literally no new topics in sports to discuss.  One program I heard recently on Philadelphia’s 94 WYSP (the station where I covered the Eagles for eight years) did bring up a Baseball Hall of Fame discussion, which led to a debate on who should and should not be in.  Among the names discussed includes one of the most positive personalities that I have ever met.

I have met, talked with and interviewed hundreds of very interesting head coaches in my day.

Among the professional head coaches and managers that I have interviewed: Doug Peterson, Andy Reid, Ray Rhodes, Larry Bowa, Gabe Kapler, Ryne Sandberg, Brett Brown, Mo Cheeks, Larry Brown … to name a few.  But I would be hard- pressed to find a more genuine and likeable pro sports coaching personality than former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

When I (and just about any other media member—save Howard Eskin) have had a chance to speak with Charlie about, well, anything, he was as accepting and as gracious as any person you could ever find.  He treated all members of the media the same and never gave anyone a hard time for a question he didn’t particularly like…something you can’t often say when dealing with people who have accomplished as much in a career as Manuel did.

In the Delaware Valley, he’s now a legend.  Winning a World Series will do that for most managers.

Manuel was on a list of 10 candidates but fell short of being elected into The Hall last December by the new “Today’s Game Era Committee,” and Phillies fans have been making a push for his name to return—with even more support—again to this year’s ballot.

Sadly, if pressed for an answer, I would have to agree that Manuel should NOT be enshrined, and if I was on any of the groups that have that power (of which there are too many—which is a subject for another blog entry) I’m afraid I would not vote him in.

Why?

A look at the facts…

Manuel won just one World Series.  In all, he won six league division titles and two pennants—all with seriously loaded offensive lineups.  While his ability to reach and connect with players, both on and off the field, was one of his best attributes, it’s hard to quantify that into the numbers game that is so key to getting that extra boost necessary to put you into the elite that is found in Cooperstown.

Instead, Manuel will more likely be remembered for that likeable, good-natured human being trait that I mentioned at the outset of this passage, than any extraordinary number or statistic you could provide in his defense.

The Hall of Fame is a place reserved for strictly the best of the best, based purely in terms of the game of baseball at the highest level and the Shrine is filled with people who had less than admirable personality traits.

Perhaps then, it is only fitting that Charlie will probably not be among them.

Riveting-Not!

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

It’s not riveting TV – No, I am not talking about my last ZOOM appearance on RCN TV’s Sportstalk (although truer words could not be spoken).  I am talking about the ABC, ESPN, and NFL Network broadcasts of the NFL Draft which drew an amazing 8.4 million viewers.  I was one of them.

I have never been an avid watcher of the program, for the very reason I have suggested – it’s boring.  And it’s boring not for one night, not for two days, but for three days.  However, this year when we are into rerun season of the shows we normally watch and HGTV is giving my wife just TOO MANY ideas about our house, I needed a change.  I was tired of trying to decide if we should flip or flop; list it or sell it; stay in our forever house; or what?  The Property Brothers have become nightly visitors and, all they do is make me look totally inept at doing virtually any household chore.

So – I suggested that I should watch the NFL Draft since my job does revolve around sports.  As I have said, but don’t tell my wife, I find this show boring.  In normal times, I would not watch.  There is almost no action except for the highlights of the players who are drafted.  There is the “very exciting” exchange of a handshake and team logoed baseball cap with Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner.

You might say there is the drama of not knowing what name will be called, but draft analysis has been going on for almost two months (there was nothing else to talk about in the sports world) so surprises are few and far between.  But this year would be different.  There would be no huge crowd in Las Vegas booing the commissioner, booing a selection, and getting an immediate response from the next instant multi-millionaire right after that player is selected.  This year would be different.

Everyone stayed home.  This meant I could see Roger Goodell’s basement.  Honestly, it could have used some HGTV renovation.  And this was not his element at all.  He seemed so uncomfortable trying to rev up the 50 or so fans who were shown on the screen behind him.  Often, he saw a cue a bit late (another awkward moment) and was not aware he was on camera.  It’s a nice TV job for one night, however.  Have someone hand you a card and read the name.  I think I could do that.

I did find it entertaining and technically impressive that early on the draft choices could be shown in their homes surrounded by family (not necessarily keeping any distance).  And catching the reactions of the family after the name of their son, brother, relative, or boyfriend was enjoyable.

I still found the program to be tedious.  What I did realize is that I am desperate to find something to create interest after over 40 days and nights of self quarantining.  Truth be told, I did not watch days two and three.

But, at least on this one night, I did not hear the question, “Could we do this in our house?”  Property Brothers be damned!

Stay safe.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. The Eagles did not have much going for them on the excitement meter for the draft. Everyone knew they would take a wide receiver on the 21st They did.  Their selection was Jalen Reagor of TCU.  Many thought they would take Justin Jefferson, but they went with a little more speed and a better positional fit.  In the end, the Eagles drafted three wide receivers, three linebackers, two offensive linemen, a safety, and a quarterback.  If the selections are good ones, many holes have been filled.
  1. With Tom Brady paired up again with Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay took an offensive lineman as their first pick to protect their new quarterback. This team is going to be good, perhaps, very good.
  1. I hope you are watching The Last Dance on ESPN, Sunday nights at 9:00. It is the story of the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan as the focus. It is riveting TV and an amazing achievement for the documentarians.  If you are a sports fan or not, I think you will be mesmerized by the show.
  1. With all the innovative ways of trying to stream relatable programming to their fans, Lafayette is going to hold a virtual tailgate party this Saturday (5/2) at 11:00AM. I will host along with Mike Joseph and we will have head coach John Garrett and the 2020 football captains on to answer questions from the fans.  It will be on ZOOM.  You can be a part of the stream.  Click here for info.
  2. The teams of Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady will meet in a charity golf match next month. The event will air LIVE on TNT, without the fiasco created last time by Pay-Per-View.  Brady is already getting his jabs in.  (See below)

 

Photo courtesy of Tom Brady

 

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: “Heartbeat”

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

For over 100 years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

People probably best remember Ginger Rogers as the other half of the greatest on-screen dancing team of all time.

But you may not know that Rogers also carved out a pretty significant leading lady persona starting in the late 1930s through the 1940s and starred in some very interesting flicks.

One of her top roles was a film called Heartbeat, directed by Sam Wood (The Pride of the Yankees, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, A Night at the Opera).

Initially, when starting her solo career, Rogers made the mistake of trying to cast herself with more reserved and less-known leading men. This backfired when, for one of her first starring films, she asked for a virtually unknown actor by the name of James Stewart to co-star in the film Vivacious Lady.  Stewart ended up stealing the spotlight despite Rogers participating in one of the most vicious on-screen fights of the time period.

(Stewart would receive his first Academy Award nomination in his very next film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, followed by an Academy Award-winning performance in The Philadelphia Story the next year.)

Rogers did not make that same mistake in Heartbeat. Her co-stars were Basil Rathbone (who starred many times as the titular character in the Sherlock Holmes film series) and Adolphe Menjou (the star of the Charlie Chaplin classic A Woman in Paris.)

Rogers stars as Arlette, a young and rather inexperienced pickpocket who gets adopted into the professional thieving world by Professor Aristide (Rathbone).  On her first assignment she is caught by a wealthy ambassador (Menjou) and is forced to partake in yet an even bigger game of deception.

The film is a wonderful blend of comedy and romance, complete with a very fulfilling twist in the end.

Heartbeat was one of Rogers’ great films during her solo years, sandwiched around classics like Tom, Dick and Harry, I’ll Be Seeing You, The Major and the Minor, Kitty Foyle and Bachelor Mother.

She would also return to co-star with Fred Astaire one last time a few years after Heartbeat in the production, The Berkeleys of Broadway.

Heartbeat will be featured in the RCN TV Movie Vault this Sunday, April 26,  at 4 p.m.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website. 

 

 

 

 

 

Tele-something

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

BEHIND THE MIC:

I do not need to tell anyone that life is far from normal.  We work from home, we stay at home, we cook every meal at home, and we try to take a walk every day not far from home – home, home, and home.

This past week, we tried to expand that environment technologically.  Our first goal was a family one – we wanted to try and celebrate Easter dinner “together”.  The logistics seemed to be a challenge: my oldest daughter and her husband were in Salisbury Township; our second daughter and family were in Northampton; our grandson was in Bethlehem Township; and our one granddaughter was in upstate New York. We were in Palmer Township.

And I, of course, was the technical novice (nicer word than idiot).  We were going to use something called “Hangouts” which was promoted by my son-in-law and grandson.  Easter Saturday became the day for “remote learning”, a term very familiar to the students who are no longer in school.  My son-in-law needed to call and text.  Let the learning begin.  It only took an hour and a half to set it up to the point where I felt comfortable using the app.

My wife and I thought that having Easter dinner together actually meant having Easter dinner together.  Well, when 6:00pm rolled around and we all got on our computers, the only ones who had not already eaten were my wife and I.  So, we ate and they talked and talked.  It certainly was not the same as gathering around our dining room table, but we saw everyone, knew that all were safe, and coping pretty well.  However, I’m sure everyone missed my wife’s Ukrainian Easter traditional dishes.  Easter was a special time for my in-laws and that tradition has carried over to my family as well.  But, the bottom line was that we did communicate with one another.

On Tuesday, it was decided that we would try to do a SportsTalk show from our homes, via, you guessed it, teleconferencing.  Only this time the format would be ZOOM.  A new learning lesson was required.  I tested my system on Tuesday and found ZOOM to be very simple.  I was either getting smarter or the process was easier.  I expect you all are assuming the latter.

Luckily, before the SportsTalk taping, I was also asked to attend an RCN staff meeting using ZOOM technology.  I was finally able to see some of my fellow workers for the first time in over a month.  There were about 15 of us.  It immediately became apparent that the camera angle was important – for many, looking up their nose was somewhat unpleasant.  I also became very aware of good posture (and its absence).  Some chose electronic artificial backgrounds.  One looked like the person was in a casino, probably not a good message during a staff meeting.  Nor, I would guess, was one where someone appeared to be on a Caribbean beach.  The good news is that we had a rather normal meeting in a very abnormal setting.

It was on to SportsTalk, which you can watch on Video on Demand if you wish.  Chris Michael and Keith Groller had invited John Leone and me to participate.  I think it was John Leone, but his full beard threw me a bit.  Here was a man losing hair on top, but growing plenty of hair below.  Chris was in the studio and the three of us were in our homes.

I began to feel like Sanjay Gupta, who is in my home more than you can possibly imagine.  Much like his reports from home, we were doing something similar and equally “important” (I’ll wait for the disdain to pass).  The show went well.  Each of the three of us had our own little box and, much like in the studio, we were able to have a somewhat lucid conversation.

It all worked.  And, amazingly, it worked for me (the technological idiot).  So, bring on Hangouts, ZOOM, Facetime, and anything else you want to throw my way.  I am ready!

Now what’s my ZOOM password?  I’m sure I wrote it down somewhere.

Stay safe.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. You can expect LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and Ohio State’s defensive end Chase Young to go 1-2 in the draft this week. The Cincinnati Bengals will pick #1 (probably Burrow) and the Washington Redskins #2 (that means Young).  It begins Thursday.
  1. If you are a college football fan, you know the name (but probably can’t pronounce it) Tua Tagovailoa. He is the quarterback from Alabama who will be a high draft choice this year, projected to be taken by Miami.  He is left-handed.  I bring this up because out of the 73 QBs who actually played in an NFL game last year, not one was left-handed.  Two played in five games in 2017 and the last left-handed QB to start and win a playoff game in the NFL was Tim Tebow.  Tua is fighting plenty of history.
  1. I am beginning to believe we might have some MLB baseball in some form. I am also beginning to believe you will only be able to see it on TV.
  1. The high school football season is approaching. I think we can practice social distancing in the stands, but what about the young men playing on the field?  There are some very tough decisions to be made in the next month or so.
  1. Isn’t golf an “essential” pastime? The guys I play with are usually hundreds of yards apart after they hit their drives.  We can call it “social distancing” if you want instead of, “That was a terrible drive”.

 

Behind the Mic: Wait and (Not) See

On Thursday, March 5, the PIAA suspended all athletic events for a two-week period.  Since then, every major and minor sporting event has been cancelled and placed in limbo for an indefinite amount of time.  Not only does it appear that there will not be any more basketball this year, it is becoming very likely that no spring sports will be played either.

I am certainly not complaining about the decisions made – they were and continue to be necessary until we get a handle on this grave situation.  Sports are part of the fabric of our lives proven by the void created by their complete absence right now.  But, it pales in comparison to achieving our ultimate goal – overcoming Covid-19 (coronavirus).

Since it appears that only a miracle would finish the state basketball playoffs, some mention of our three teams that were still alive is necessary.  Bethlehem Catholic, Nazareth, and Freedom were still advancing.  All three teams had moved to the quarterfinals.  Only seven teams stood between them and a state championship.  It was quite possible that Nazareth and Freedom could have met one another in the state championship on March 20.  Therefore, all three teams need a bit more ink.

Freedom was 24-5 this year losing three times to Bethlehem Catholic and in double overtime to Nazareth in the District XI championship.  They were one shy of the most girls’ basketball wins in school history.  They won both state games by double-digit margins.  Their seniors had a combined record of 82-29 and won a District Championship in 2018.  They had already advanced farther than any team in their history.  They will never know how this season would have ended.

Nazareth was continuing a great season (26-4).  Twenty-six wins is the most in a single season and they, too, had never advanced to the state quarterfinals. They managed to win the District championship after losing the EPC title to Bethlehem Catholic.  Their two state wins were by margins of 28 and 11 points.  They overcame being placed in the bottom half of the bracket and having to travel great distances for their games.  That did not matter – they won anyway.  Their team has no seniors, so, at least, they will all return next year.

Beca is in a category all their own.  Their season ended with a 29-0 record.  In the last four years, they have amassed a 112-8 record, last losing on January 31, 2019, to Freedom.  They have won 42 straight games and two of the last three state titles.  What made the end so disappointing this year was that their next opponent was Scranton Prep.  Their record was 27-0.  So without the shutdown, these two teams would have faced one another with a combined 56-0 record.  Scranton Prep had already gone farther than any team in their history.

So the only defeats in state playoffs to these teams came from Covid-19.  I would be shocked if another game is played this year.  So, disappointment will always exist, “what-ifs” will always be asked, and outcomes will never be answered.

One thing we do know with certainty – Freedom, Nazareth, Bethlehem Catholic (and Scranton Prep) all had great seasons and, for that, they should be extremely proud.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. There was certainly more bad news this past week concerning high school basketball in the Lehigh Valley. First, was the announcement by Doug Snyder that he was resigning as the head basketball coach at Allen High School.  This was his 23rd year at the helm and he had an incredible record of 364 wins and 263 losses.  They finished this season 23-6 and won the EPC.  Allen is not an easy place to coach with all the inner city problems, but Doug was the right person for the job.  He never wavered on the values that he taught and never let winning get in the way of doing the right thing.  He will be sorely missed.
  2. Within the same week, Liberty head coach Chad Landis decided it was time to spend more time with his wife and four daughters (certainly another huge challenge for him). Chad coached Liberty for 12 years and won 198 games.  His team was 20-6 this past year.  Much like Snyder, Landis made his players better people amid similar challenges.  Two outstanding teachers of life and the game of basketball will now have to be replaced.  No easy task, for sure.
  3. At least with NFL free agency occurring right now, there will be some sports news to report. What will Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Drew Brees do?  There are over 100 free agents so there should be something to talk about in the next month.
  4. Thank you to all the stat people, the athletic directors, the coaches, the administrative assistants, and to the fans for another great, yet somewhat unsatisfying year.
  5. Much like the rest of the month – TBD